Candidate Bill Hedrick’s son returns from Iraq

We don’t speak much of Congressional District 44 on this blog, but it does include San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano, as well as Riverside, Corona and Norco. It’s been represented by “Creepy Ken” Calvert since 1992. Rated one of the “20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress” by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and famed for his 1993 arrest with a prostitute in his car, he just recently earned a nice write-up in our little sister blog for his self-serving earmarks (Gila’s “Ken Calvert Pigs Out.“)

So, just a little background there. The guy running against Calvert is a friend of mine, Bill Hedrick, a Corona educator whose son has been stationed in Iraq until a couple of weeks ago; another son of his nearly died in Baquba. I just received the following from Bill via e-mail about his son’s return and he asked me to post it:

A Return Home from Iraq

From Bill Hedrick, Candidate for the 44th Congressional District

When I began my campaign last year to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, I was motivated by the many policy failures of the Bush Administration embraced by the incumbent congressman. These included the President’s failure to provide a universal health care proposal, an education program designed to undermine our public schools, and trade agreements that have killed good jobs for working families. But personally, for me and my family, the most egregious disappointment has been this Administration’s failed policy in Iraq.

In our family, the Occupation of Iraq is not an abstract concept. It is something we live everyday. On May 16th, my wife Beth and I saw our son Adam return home from his second deployment with the 3rd Infantry Division.

The reception hall at Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, was filled with exuberant, expectant, and proud family members. The soldiers entered the hall in formation and marched past a “Welcome Home Heroes” banner. A roar erupted from the hundreds gathered to greet their loved ones. Homecoming, especially from a combat tour, is exciting for the soldiers, and emotionally charged for their families.

Beth and I felt thankful that Adam had returned safely once again, and were incredibly proud to see him carry a brigade flag into the hall. All around you could see the joy as families and soldiers were reunited. As the names of those who died during this deployment scrolled across a screen, the happiness of the moment was tempered by the knowledge that too many did not return that day to Fort Benning and their families.

Fort Benning is clearly the economic heart of Columbus, Georgia, and the city warmly celebrates the return of soldiers with “Welcome Home Troops” signs and military discounts for everything imaginable. On our weekend visit, returning Iraq veterans and new recruits on leave for “Family Day” filled stores, restaurants, and hotels. This is a town that generally lives for the prosperity brought by the military, and appreciates the combat pay differentials and re-enlistment bonuses specifically.

There is no way one can take part in such a weekend without reflecting upon and questioning the policies that send our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers halfway around the world to occupy a land where we cannot impose peace. Questioning these policies is necessary, especially for military families, as multiple deployments appear endless and the human and financial cost remains astronomical.

I am proud of our troops. I am especially proud of Adam, and of Jesse and Evelyn, my other soldier-son and his wife. Adam is scheduled to return to Iraq in November 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom VII. Jesse will redeploy to northern Iraq in late August. That will make seven tours of duty for the Hedrick family: three for Adam, two for Jesse, and two for Evelyn. How much more can we ask of the same soldiers and same families before we ask too much?

I am now, more than ever, certain that America’s current role in Iraq must come to a close. I wholeheartedly endorse the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq (www.responsibleplan.com) – a seven point plan supported by Major General Paul Eaton, Ret., and others to end the occupation and bring our soldiers home.

It was great to join other military families at Fort Benning’s homecoming celebration for our troops. It is right and important to honor the real sacrifices made by our troops and their families during these long deployments. However, the greatest honor we can bestow is beginning the process of drawing down our troops. Now, right now, is the time to bring our sons and daughters home.

Bill Hedrick


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.